It's a letter from my former church congratulating me on becoming a Christian, from way back in July of '96. I was seven at the time.
Seems so innocuous, doesn't it? They were so glad to welcome me into the fold. They assured me I had made the right choice, a vital choice, renewing the sense of relief I had from avoiding damnation. They invited me to the Clubhouse—the name has that enticing air of exclusiveness about it. Actually, they didn't invite me: the subtle use of "when" made it a foregone conclusion that I would attend. Tell your parents what time you want to come, they suggested. Have fun, watch puppet shows, sing songs. And oh, by the way, bring your friends!
It really was fun. They put on an engaging production in the church auditorium, surprisingly polished for a kid's program. There were engrossing quiz games, props and puppets flying everywhere, funny voiceovers over the loudspeaker—more like watching an interactive play than attending a sermon. The stuff for older kids was considerably more dry and dull, but they really knew how to reel in the six-to-ten crowd. They understood the importance of grabbing our attention from a young age.
I'm probably making all this sound too sinister. I can only assume that these were genuinely nice people with pure intentions. The goal was not to snare hapless children in some nefarious trap. But when good people are misguided, when they're incredibly motivated, when they have years and decades and centuries to hone their sales pitch, when their target audience still believes in the tooth fairy... well, it's not exactly a fair fight.